Micah Gordon ran to clear his head. He ran from his problems, from his obligations, from his own pack in order to feel even the slightest bit of freedom. If anyone could leash a bear, it was his own clan. He’d only been alpha for two months, and already he regretted his decision.
“You should have said no. You wanted to say no. Alpha may be in your blood, but it’s not who you are.”
He slowed down to a stop and rested on his knees, panting. He’d worked his body to the max, and his legs and sides were killing him. But it didn’t matter how fast or how far he ran. He’d chosen to be the leader, and nothing short of death would release him.
At thirty-five, Micah was the product of generations of alphas and old money. The city pack had an easy alliance with the other shifters and an uneasy alliance with the vampire community, but when his father had died, his pack had given him an ultimatum. Assume his rightful place or leave. And as much as Micah wanted to leave, he couldn’t do that to his mother. She would have been exiled.
So he’d stepped up. It wasn’t so much that he hated the idea of being the alpha, but he’d always felt caged in. For as long as he could remember, he’d been groomed for this position, and he was afraid he’d crack under pressure. He was responsible for the actions of his pack. He was responsible for their well-being. He was responsible for upholding the treaties with the other packs and clans.
He was supposed to mate with Bridgette.
A wave of disgust rolled over him. Bridgette was the alpha female. From the day she’d turned fifteen, the pack accepted that she would be Micah’s mate, but he felt nothing for her. She was beautiful and powerful, but she was also egotistical and bitchy. And with her came her younger brother, Travis. Micah felt only waves of hatred emanating from the young man. There was no way he was anchoring himself to that for the rest of his life.
Except that he would have to. Because now his life was subject to pack rules. And the rules were clear.
With a sigh, he turned back around and headed to the warehouse district. G&S Industries was expecting a new shipment today. His great-grandfather had started the business with his second in command years ago. Back then, they simply guided tourists through the dense wooded areas of Woodland and across the river rapids. Today, Micah oversaw hiking, camping, and white water rafting equipment as well as the expert guides. He worked alongside Jackson Steward, his own second-in-command. Sometimes, Micah didn’t privately wonder if Jackson wouldn’t make the better alpha.
At the warehouse, the trucks were already pulling in. Micah glanced at his watch and frowned. They were early, which was great except that he wouldn’t get a chance to shower and change. With a shrug, he jogged over to meet them.
“Not exactly the power suit,” Jackson said with a grin.
“They weren’t supposed to be here for another hour,” Micah said as he clasped Jackson’s hand. Not only were they partners, but they were also best friends. Micah had no idea what he would have done without the man.
“No worries. At least you’re wearing our gear. But God, you smell. How long have you been out?”
Jackson raised his eyebrows. “Something you want to talk about?”
Micah shook his head. “I’m just trying to keep in shape,” he lied.
It was clear that his friend didn’t believe him, but he knew better than to question the alpha. Instead, he pushed a clipboard into his hands. “You take crates one through four, and I’ll take the rest.”
Micah wiped his sweaty hands on his black shorts and began to systematically go through the contents of the crates. The smell of dust and wood wafted up his nose, and he smiled. They brought with it memories of his own adventures hiking and camping in Woodland, and he longed to return. It had been years since his last vacation, and he was long over due.
“We’re good here,” he said as he straightened. He signed the inventory list and handed it back to the truckers. “Jackson?”
“Everything’s accounted for. Thank you gentlemen.”
They shook hands and nodded to the forklift drivers. “Take them to warehouse B, and let’s get these babies unpacked and registered in the system,” Micah ordered. “I’m going to take a shower.”
Jackson wrinkled his nose. “Thank God.”
Laughing, he turned until he saw one of the crates still open. “Hold up,” he said as he jogged over. He didn’t want to lose anything. Grabbing the top, he attempted to shove it back on. Something sharp cut deep in to the palm of his hand, and he grimaced. Pain shot through his arm, and he felt the bear inside him roar.
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